How many calories can I eat a day for weight loss?

How many calories can I eat a day for weight loss?

Crystal Zabka-Belsky, MS, RDN, CSSD, LMNT, LDN
6 minute read

“What am I not able to eat on a weight loss diet?” I hear this question all the time. But let’s talk about what you can eat instead! There has long been a misconception that in order to lose weight, we must engage in severely restrictive diets. Not true! In fact, reductions in caloric intake alone may not lead to successful or long-term weight loss. So what is the best weight loss program? In order to achieve long-term weight management success, we must approach the situation with both behavioral and environmental changes in mind.  

So what does that mean? First of all, it is important that you fuel your body appropriately in order to promote gradual, long-term weight loss. This is where the behavioral piece comes in. A dramatic restriction of calories can lead to more harm than good including food preoccupations, dysfunctional eating patterns, hormonal changes, headaches, irritability, and body dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, this can lead us right back to where we started with emotional eating and rebound weight gain. Yo-yo dieting, often defined by cycling between restrictive and excessive intake, has been linked to increased risks for a variety of chronic diseases including obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. In order to achieve true, long-standing change, we must modify our eating behavior so that it includes consistent, balanced, and adequate intake.

“How many calories can I eat a day for weight loss?” This is usually the second question that I get and the answer is never the same. There is not one cookie-cutter approach to weight loss. As featured on the Today Show (How to lose weight: Cut 500 calories a day, lose 1 pound a week (, it is well-documented that a reduction of 500 kcal per day will promote one pound lost per week on average. So, let’s say that a person who generally overeats has a typical daily caloric intake of 3000 kcal per day. In theory, reducing daily intake to 2500 kcal per day initially should promote gradual weight loss. However, most of us have little patience and want what we want immediately. This often results in thinking that more has to be better—meaning more restriction. So instead of starting with a rational caloric level of just 500 kcal below the typical intake, people go crazy with diets as low as 1000 kcal per day. What is the harm in this? This kind of self-starvation can affect hormone levels and suppress one’s natural metabolism, leading to an increased chance of rebound weight gain. In addition, it can also lead to binge eating, associated guilt, and unhealthy compensatory behaviors. This kind of pattern turns us into a hamster on a wheel living a vicious cycle.

What about the weight loss environment? It may seem silly to think about staging your environment for weight loss success, but establishing a home, workplace, and car that is conducive to weight loss is half the battle! What do I mean by this? If you are trying to eat consistent, healthy meals and you have nothing but junk food at home, how are you going to make this happen? If you don’t pack healthy snacks and rely only on convenience foods from a vending machine at work, what impact will that have on your overall caloric intake? If you have chocolate stashed in the glove box of your car to eat in secret, how is that contributing to your weight loss goals? A healthy environment means having healthy, portion-controlled foods available throughout your day no matter the setting that will contribute to the best possible weight loss outcome.

Knowing this, how do we start a weight loss journey? What are the best foods for weight loss? The best foods are those that touch on some key components: convenience, budget-friendly, consistent calories, portion control, variety, appropriate macros and balance among food groups. And thus, Clean Eatz Kitchen meal prep company was born! Our team is focused on this very thing. Our insight to the impact that crazy schedules, unhealthy societal triggers, quick-fix fad diets and budget constraints can have on weight management led us to become passionate about developing a strategy to promote healthy eating without causing an additional stressor. With nearly 80 fresh food cafes (and growing!) located all over the nation (Locations - Clean Eatz), Clean Eatz is a one-stop shop for meals, smoothies and snacks. Need catering for office events? We’ve got you covered. In addition, you can build an entire meal plan to be delivered directly to your home!

What makes Clean Eatz Kitchen so great is that it hits on all the major points I mentioned. Convenience, check. There are locations all over the nation and healthy meals can be delivered to your home within two days anywhere in the continental United States. Budget-friendly, check. Our meals generally range from $7-8 per meal, much less than traditional take out! Consistent calories, check. Our meals are strategically developed to provide consistent calories across different flavors and styles of food. Portion control, check. It is important to not only be consistent with caloric intake, but to also condition the body to be content with the same volume of food at each meal. Our meals all come in the same size package, keeping food volumes very consistent. Variety, check. We have such a variety of food that it is hard to choose! So many flavors, cultures and styles of food! And our menu constantly evolves to include new ideas. Appropriate macros, check. This is one of my favorite parts of the Clean Eatz meals. I can recommend the meals to individuals of all shapes, sizes and lifestyles because we offer a variety of macro categories including high-protein, low-carb and keto meals in addition to general meal plans. And finally, balance among food groups—check. You will always find a fruit or veggie snuck into our meals to keep them well-rounded and packed with nutrients and antioxidants!  

So what are you waiting for? Get your buns over to the Clean Eatz website and start fueling your weight loss journey with some healthy meal plans.

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